Carson, Calif. — Manager Bruce Arena fielded another entirely new lineup Saturday night against Sporting Kansas City. For the first time in a while, the Galaxy did not have a designated player in the starting lineup. Robbie Keane was still out with a groin injury and Omar Gonzalez started on the bench after going a full 90 minutes in the USA’s win over Mexico a few days earlier.
Sporting Kansas were without a few of their key players of their own with Ike Opara going down with a ruptured Achilles tendon last week and will be out of the rest of the 2015 MLS season. Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic did not play due to injuries as well.
Rafael Garcia earned another start after his impressive showing last week against the Seattle Sounders and Homegrown player, Bradford Jamieson IV, made his first ever MLS start in central midfield.
LA started the scoring off early in the 9th minute when Stefan Ishizaki took a shot on goal and Sporting KC’s goalkeeper Luis Marin blocked it but could not deflect it wide enough. Baggio Husidic was there at the right place to clean up the rebound scoring his first goal of the season.
Jamieson didn’t waste anytime getting into his groove as he tried to play the ball into the six yard box to Alan Gordon in the 2nd minute but Gordon couldn’t get on the end of it. Jamieson’s pace was on display off a counter in the 12th minute when he took off from mid-field all the way into the box and tried to chip Marin but defender Kevin Ellis made a last second block.
Kansas City scored the equalizer in the 22nd minute with Krisztian Nemeth getting behind the Galaxy defense and scoring the goal after a beautiful pass sequence from Benny Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer.
After the second goal, LA’s defense looked shaky as they gave up a few shots on goal but they were saved again by Jaime Penedo, who was MLS’s Player of the Week after his terrific performance last week. Their attack didn’t look any better as KC’s defense stiffened up and smothered any chances of a counter attack or any meaningful possession for the Galaxy.
Once Gyasi Zardes came on in the 70th minute, the offense changed dramatically.
Juninho fired an absolute rocket that was saved by Marin and Zardes had a chance of his own but mishit the ball.
A close call came in the 76th minute when Zardes raced down the left side of the field and played the ball towards the center of the box to Jamieson who attempted a cheeky back heel but hit Marin’s left leg who cleared it away.
Tempers started to flare in the 82nd when Juninho and Roger Espinoza got in a tussle and appeared to have thrown punches but none of them landed. In the end, referee Allen Kelly issued Juninho a yellow card while Espinoza should have received his 2nd yellow for the night.
LA’s last gasp came in the last seconds of the 2nd half stoppage when Juninho sent in a corner kick to Omar Gonzalez who gives it a little flick and deflected off of Bernardo Anor and into the net.
“I just stuck a leg out there and I guess it happened to go in. So I’m just absolutely thrilled,” Gonzalez said.
The officiating played a big part in this game from the Juninho/Espinoza incident to the many offside calls that were iffy throughout the evening.
Another surprising note is the Galaxy did not exploit KC’s goalkeeper more as he didn’t look confident from the start. Aside from the first goal, he looked nervous coming off his line and made a few questionable decisions that the Galaxy should have taken advantage of.
With this win, the Galaxy are now in 2nd place in the Western Conference, where they were dead last just a week ago.
“I think we did good,” said Arena. “This league is a unique league in the fact that every game is a battle. Teams are pretty even in MLS. Any time you win a game, you have to take it, especially when it’s against a good team like Sporting Kansas City. It’s obviously a great result. We were a little bit fortunate at the end, but I think we played really hard. We conditioned ourselves to get a break. We put a lot of pressure on them in the last ten, fifteen minutes and we were lucky that the ball bounced our way.”